April 20, 2006

"Saying 'No' to the Ivy League" Article in Wall Street Journal Features Rensselaer

An article in the April 20, 2006 edition of The Wall Street Journal touts Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Rensselaer Medal scholarship as an excellent merit-based award that middle and upper-income families can use to get their children good educations at a substantial discount to the Ivy League. According to the article:

At some schools that are well-regarded, though not Ivy League, the discounts can be hefty. At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, N.Y., which costs about $40,000 a year, about a quarter of last fall's freshman class of 1,250 received merit scholarships averaging about $15,000 each.

Offers such as Rensselaer's have "great appeal to the many families that are not eligible for need-based aid -- the only kind offered by Ivy League colleges -- but are squeezed by current prices."

The Rensselaer Medal has been awarded for more than 85 years to "promising secondary school juniors who have distinguished themselves in mathematics and science.... {Its goals are} to recognize the superlative academic achievement of young men and women, and to motivate students toward careers in science, engineering, and technology."

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January 30, 2006

Rensselaer Doing Better Than Many Area Schools in Student Retention

One of the big concerns of Rensselaer alumni, current and prospective students, and parents is student retention: how many students who complete their freshman year return for their sophomore year. Student retention is discussed in an article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer called Many freshmen rethink their college choices. The article says:

... It's usually not until this time of year, long after tuition checks have been cashed and teary farewells have been exchanged, that freshmen break the news to their stunned parents:

You know that school I worked so hard to get into? I hate it. I want out.

Call it the freshman churn, the students who bail before sophomore year. Most first-year students stay put, but in every class an antsy minority switches schools, spurred by homesickness, a creepy roommate, social anxiety, geographic shock, or financial or academic concerns. The place is too small, too big, too cold, too remote.

The story is about students from the Philadelphia area and students who've been attending Philadelphia-area schools, but it's quite interesting. It includes the student attrition rates (the percentage of students who leave) of many area schools.

I thought it would be interesting to compare the attrition rates of the schools mentioned in the Inquirer article with that of Rensselaer. Sorted from lowest to highest with lowest being best:

  • Haverford College 1.2%
  • U. of Pennsylvania 2%
  • Swarthmore College 3.6%
  • Villanova U. 6 %
  • Rensselaer 7.6%
  • Bryn Mawr College 8%
  • St. Joseph's U. 10.8%
  • Rutgers U. 11.5%
  • Penn State U. 14.8%
  • LaSalle U. 16%
  • Temple U. 16%
  • Drexel U. 20%
  • Philadelphia U. 26%
  • Lincoln U. 31.7%

(Sources: Student attrition figures from college admission offices, reported in Philadelphia Inquirer article. Rutgers and Penn State figures for all campuses combined. Penn State figures for 2003-04 freshman class. Rensselaer retention published in Institute plans new initiatives for undergraduate programs, Rensselaer Polytechnic, September 28, 2005. I subtracted the published retention rate from 100 to get the attrition rate.)

If you want to help us put together a picture of how RPI is doing compared to the schools that we compete directly against, feel free to do some research, and post any statistics you find as comments to this story. Please include the URLs for any web pages that illustrate the numbers that you cite.

February 6, 2004

Survey Lists Most Valuable College Degrees, RPI Offers All of the Top 10

CNN Money reports on the most valuable undergraduate degrees as reported in the 2004 survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. According to the survey of average starting salaries, these are the top 10 undergraduate degrees:

  1. Computer engineering, $53,117
  2. Chemical engineering, $52,563
  3. Electrical engineering, $49,926
  4. Mechanical engineering, $49,088
  5. Computer science, $48,656
  6. Industrial/manufacturing engineering, $48,283
  7. Information sciences, $42,108
  8. Accounting, $42,045
  9. Construction science, $41,232
  10. Management information systems/business data processing, $41,103

Do we have to point out that all of these degrees are offered at Rensselaer?

April 2, 2002

Update on Spring 2002 College Fairs

Joe Pilaro writes, "The response by RCNJ Admissions Volunteers for coverage of the Spring 2002 College Fairs has been very good. The first five requests from RPI Admissions were quickly fulfilled. Thank you to all who have so willingly offered their time to this cause."

"We've received an invitation to the
Annual Hunterdon County College Fair to be held on Monday, April 29, from 7 - 9 p.m. in the Hunterdon Central High School Fieldhouse in Flemington, NJ. If anyone is available to attend this Fair, please e-mail me at and I will arrange for information and materials for this Fair."

February 20, 2002

RPI Admissions Creates a Rensselaer Medal Web Site

Gloria Pappas wrote, "What exciting news I have for all of you. There were many suggestions from our alumni regarding our Rensselaer Medal Program, one being that you felt that Rensselaer should have a Medal web site! Our staff has persevered and our new Rensselaer Medal Web Site is up and running. Take a moment to check it out. Start with, Undergraduate Admissions, Financial Aid and Scholarships, Rensselaer Medal Program." {This is a direct link: Rensselaer Medal Program}

"High school guidance counselors will be able to nominate (via the secured site) a recipient for the $10,000 per year scholarship. If you want to know if a high school is a Medal school, enter the city and state and youíll get a list of Rensselaerís current Medal Schools. Names of Medal recipients will not be available. Feel free to contact me at with your comments and/or questions."

December 12, 2001

NJ Fall College Fairs: Wrap-up

Joe Pilaro writes, "A spirited discussion ensued at the NJ Admissions Volunteers' 'Wrap-up' dinner on Monday, December 10 for those RCNJ members who attended Fall 2001 fairs. Although we didn't solve the problems of the world, our meeting resulted in some worthwhile comments, which follow, and a request for more information from RPI Admissions."

Continue reading "NJ Fall College Fairs: Wrap-up" »

August 21, 2001

Fall College Fairs

JFPilaro writes, "It's that time of year again! Rensselaer Admissions has posted the list of Fall College Fairs in New Jersey where RPI would like to have a presence. I have attached a list for you to use to select those fairs compatible with your schedules.

Please e-mail me at or telephone at [609] 700-0649 by September 3 so that I may inform Admissions about which fairs RCNJ will handle. Last year we covered all the fairs which Admissions could no cover with their own staff. Let's keep up the great effort of the New Jersey Alumni Volunteers."

Joe Pilaro, '55
Regional Manager, Admissions Volunteers Program

Continue reading "Fall College Fairs" »

August 17, 2001

Admissions Volunteers On-campus Training

Joe Pilaro writes, "Our ability to attract and maintain high-quality students to Rensselaer is due, in large part, to the incredible job done by our Rensselaer Alumni Admissions Volunteers. In an effort to provide our volunteers with the most up-to-date information and news about Rensselaer, we are scheduling the Alumni Admissions Volunteer Training Session III to be held Friday, September 14 and Saturday, September 15, 2001. The schedule for this event is as follows:"


    • 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. lunch and training session
    • 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Dinner


    • 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Rensselaer Medal Reception (on campus)

"As the Regional Manager or Alumni Admissions Volunteer from New Jersey, I can arrange for your attendance at this event. I also encourage you to identify and ask a new alumnus/na volunteer from our region to join us for these exciting and informative days. Read on for more details...."

Continue reading "Admissions Volunteers On-campus Training" »

May 18, 2001

Admissions Provides Details on Class of 2005

Joe Pilaro '55 writes, "Gloria Pappas of RPI Admissions has sent the following information about the Class of 2005, who will be entering Freshmen in the Fall 2001 semester:"

As of May 10, we have 1142 enrollment deposits from our Class of 2005. Applications were at the highest level since 1986. Our combined SATís are up 24 points to 1306; students in the top 10% of their class increased by one percent.

Read on for some statistics from the Career Development Center about the Class of 2001 and a call for volunteers for Fall College Fairs....

Continue reading "Admissions Provides Details on Class of 2005" »

April 11, 2001

RCNJ Members Recognized for Service to College Fair Program

Joe Pilaro '55 produced this list of volunteers who supported Undergraduate Admissions by participating in college fairs. Read on for the list of volunteers...

Continue reading "RCNJ Members Recognized for Service to College Fair Program" »

January 1, 2001

RCNJ to Co-Sponsor NJ Science Olympiad in March, Volunteers Needed to Assist Participants

Ken DeGhetto told us that the Rensselaer Club of New Jersey will provide financial support to the New Jersey Science Olympiad which will take place on March 20, 2001, at Middlesex County College in Edison. This is an annual event "devoted to improving the quality of science education, increasing student
interest in science, and providing recognition for outstanding achievement in science education by both students and teachers." The RCNJ will contribute a minimum of $300 in the name of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in order to increase awareness of our school among middle school and high school students in this state.

Ken has also asked that we seek volunteers to assist Sandra Buleza, the organizer of the Science Olympiad and her staff. Further details and a registration form are available on the NJ Science Olympiad Web Site. In order to better coordinate the RCNJ's involvement, Ken asks that you contact him at 973-630-8301 if you are interested in volunteering.

September 11, 2000

Alumni Volunteer Help Needed for Several Fall College Fairs

JPilaro writes, "This year, Rensselaer Admissions has been asked to provide Alumni Volunteers to attend sixteen Fall College Fairs in Northern New Jersey. Response from the RCNJ volunteers has been excellent. I hate to have to add another pair to the list provided by e-mail to many of you earlier, but here they are:"

  • The Clark Public Schools College Night Program

    Wednesday, October 18, 2000 from 7 to 9 p.m.

    Arthur L. Johnson High School, Westfield Avenue, Clark, NJ 07066

  • Bergen County College Night Program

    Thursday, 9/21/00 from 6 - 9 p.m.

    at Rothman Center Field House

    Fairleigh Dickinson in Hackensack, NJ.

"{There are four} other Fairs to which RPI has been invited, but for which we have not obtained Volunteer coverage." Click "Read More" to see that list.

Continue reading "Alumni Volunteer Help Needed for Several Fall College Fairs" »